June 28 – Discovery of Asteroid 259 Aletheia (1886)

Another one from the golden age of minor planet discovery, the 1880s.  259 Aletheia was discovered on June 28th 1886 by C F H Peters, one of the most successful asteroid hunters of the nineteenth century.  He will be our birthday boy on September 19th.

Aletheia is a large main belt asteroid of about 178km diameter, rotating every 15 hours (quite fast), with an absolute magnitude of 7.76 (reasonably dim), and an albedo of 0.043 (very dark).

Veritas / Aletheia
Veritas / Aletheia

Today’s black rock is named after the Greek goddess of truth and sincerity (her Roman equivalent is Veritas).  The Greeks had a god or goddess for just about everything, but this is particularly so when it comes to emotions.  This makes for a vast supply of potential astronomical names, not all of which have been used yet, for example Eris (strife – used), Ate (ruin – used), Dolus (cunning – not used) and Metus (fear – not used).

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